Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Noam Chomsky, Libertarians, Intentional Communities

from an article Posted by Roger Copple on June 11, 2010 on Disinfo.com

In searching for YouTube videos of Noam Chomsky debating libertarians such as Ron Paul or Austrian economists such as Murray Rothbard, I found this:
Chomsky argues in this video that “if you go back to the Constitutional debates, they are all very clear: Madison, the framer of the Constitution, makes clear that the prime responsibility of government is to protect the minority, the opulent, against the majority.”
“Madison warned of what he called ‘the danger of the leveling spirit among the growing number of people who labor under all the hardships of life and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings’.”  Chomsky thus argued that the primary principle of our Constitution was that “democracy is unacceptable.”
“Madison’s thought carried the day.  James Wilson was the only dissenting voice.  Jefferson, a real democrat, was not part of it. [He was on some assignment to Europe during the Constitutional Convention]…This satisfied the Madisonian principle that wealth must rule.  The wealthy are a better class of men.  They must rule.  They own the country anyhow, so therefore, they must be responsible.”
Noam Chomsky says he is a Libertarian Socialist, which only appears to be a contradiction of terms here in the United States.  He argues that the term “libertarian” in the United States means the opposite of what it meant to everyone else throughout history.  The real Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson were anti-capitalists and called for equality.  They did not believe that people should be subject to wage labor because that is a destruction of their humanity.
Chomsky stated that “Adam Smith [in his book The Wealth of Nations] said that in any civilized society something has to be done to prevent the division of labor because it will turn the people into creatures who are as ignorant as it is possible to be.  Adam Smith advocated markets only on the grounds that “perfect liberty leads to perfect equality.”  That is the traditional libertarian position.
“The US stance on libertarianism is quite different,” according to Noam Chomsky. “It means extreme advocacy of total tyranny, and private unaccountable tyranny is worse than state tyranny because the public has some control over state tyranny.  The corporate system, as it has evolved in the twentieth century, is pure tyranny, completely unaccountable.  You are inside one of these institutions and you take orders from above and hand it down below [this is hierarchy].”
One commentator of this Youtube video wrote “Anarcho-capitalists and Libertarians are anti-government but not anti-governance.  They never talk about the destruction of [private corporate] hierarchies or the shareholder/stakeholder divide. That is why it is a pseudoanarchy.”
Chomsky also said that “unsubsidized capitalism has existed in a good part of the Third World, which is why the Third World countries look the way they do.  Unsubsidized capitalism has never existed in any developed society for a simple reason: the wealthy and powerful won’t allow it just as Adam Smith understood.  They will use the levers of power to make sure that state power subsidizes them.”  Chomsky then concludes that he “would only subscribe to the free market as it was advocated by Adam Smith, the person who wrote Wealth of Nations, not the person that most people worship today.”
In another Youtube video entitled, “Noam Chomsky on Ron Paul supporters”*, Chomsky acknowledged how libertarians are against a foreign policy of interventionism (I would say Chomsky agrees with Ron Paul supporters on foreign policy), but Chomsky also said Ron Paul supporters unleash “their anger on the government (which potentially can be democratic), not against the Fortune 500 companies that make dazzling profits.  Libertarians hate bureaucrats in Washington but not the ones in the insurance offices.  “They are fearful of the Council on Foreign Relations, the UN, and the Federal Reserve, but are not fearful of private power or corporate tyrannies.”
*(I haven't been able to find a video specifically titled as such, but i did find this.)
I agree with much of what Noam Chomsky says in the above paragraphs.  However, unlike Noam Chomsky, I think the Federal Reserve is very dangerous.  I personally have not heard Chomsky say he was worried too much about fractional reserve banking and Keynesian economics, which have caused great harm to our nation.  And in defense of Ron Paul, I would point out that Ron Paul also is very much against corporatism, or crony capitalism. For more information about the Federal Reserve, go to Youtube.com and type the name “G. Edward Griffin” or the title “The Money Masters.”
The reason I have written a new US Constitution (called The Third Constitution of the United States) is that in the course of our nation’s history, several Amendments and federal laws (like giving women and blacks the right to vote) were passed that express the idea that our government is a democracy (a word that is not found in the Constitution because our founding fathers feared it).  The Greens today even talk about the ideal of a participatory and consensus democracy achievable at local, small scale levels (in small groups it is better than representative democracy).  But our founding fathers, and many libertarians today, argue that our government is a Constitutional Republic that guarantees our inherent individual rights (rights that a mob democracy cannot take away).  I believe we need a new constitution that better reconciles these two forces of individualism and collectivism, a constitution that gives more power to common, working people.  I recommend that we maximize local community self-determination, with a system in which decision-making power flows (from the bottom-up, not from the top-down) from the precinct to the township, then from the township to the county, and from the county to the state level, while having the smallest possible federal government.
I do not care for corruption and top-down hierarchy in government.   But I also do not want to work in a tyrannical and hierarchical private corporation, which may be my only choice in a free market (based on competition, scarcity, and profit) as the rich get richer, and the poor, poorer.  Therefore, I believe cities and counties should be able to revoke corporate charters.  Also, there should be guaranteed workplace democracy in private companies when they reach a certain size.
We also need more intentional communities that show the world, by example, how small cooperative groups of people, sharing similar values, can live simply in ecologically, self-sufficient, sustainable ways, using consensus decision-making, permaculture landscaping, organic fertilizers, composting, vegetarianism, geodesic domes, and alternative energies (that make it possible to get off the electrical grid).

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